Patient Blogs | Depression
When I Knew it Was Time to Get Help
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I have tried describing depression so many times throughout my life, and yet, there never seem to be enough words to illuminate exactly what it feels like to those who have never experienced it.

To me, depression has felt like visceral pain. Not the kind of stabbing or aching pain that you feel when a headache or leg cramp approaches. It’s more of a drowning, subtle, rocking sadness that blossoms into a forest of other emotions. I am suddenly angry and tired, irritable, insecure, lost, simultaneously numb, and in despair. Depression is a type of pain that burrows under your skin and into your head so deeply, it warps the way you see the world. 

It has felt like I am slowly becoming colorblind to anything good. One day, I can no longer see the smiles of others, the brightness of a new day, the way the sunset spreads across the sky, or how the trees stretch into the clouds. Everything is bleak.

Depression has felt like I am cavernous; like pieces of my soul and personality are missing, maybe gone forever. I am a black hole that is endless. I am nothing. I am nothing. I am nothing. That’s what it feels like. All I can think about is this empty endlessness. I feel the complete dullness of all my senses, as food becomes bland, sights fade into a faraway background, and touch is anesthetized.

I try to paint the picture of depression with the words I already know, but sometimes I think there aren’t enough words that exist to explain the way it feels when the world flips upside down. How do I explain the way sinister darkness creeps its way into my life? How do I explain that I am crying so hard, my chest hurts, my ribs hurt, my eyes hurt, and yet I cannot stop? The tears are not a salve. They are the sound you make when something hurts so badly you do not think you’ll survive. 

Once I began to find the words to describe how I was feeling, I knew it was time to get help. It wasn’t until I could truly reflect and write about my pain, that I realized it was something I could no longer live through on my own. I needed support outside of myself. 

I remember sitting on my college campus in 2015, after months of feeling like I didn’t fit into this world. It had been months of anguish, heartache, and grief. I was sitting on a bench under a giant oak tree. A beautiful fall day, with a breeze and the slow setting of the sun on the horizon. My favorite season, and yet, I felt such a bleak emptiness. If I keep feeling like this, I will not survive. 

I called my mom, and we scheduled my first psychiatrist appointment.

It would be years of trying to find the needle in the haystack – the key to alleviating my symptoms – until I finally felt a semblance of my stable sense again. And though that day was one of my many rock bottoms, I’m grateful for the self-awareness and sense of knowing that came with that day. 

It is brave to admit things are wrong and to ask for help when you don’t know where to begin. How do you start to say the words that are hard, the ones that leave you vulnerable and open-wounded? It is terrifying. But what is more terrifying is living alone in that painful silence. 

The moment you realize you need help looks different for everyone. Your rock bottom may be different from mine. Maybe your moment is when a friend mentions you are acting differently, or a family member notices your isolation. Or when waking up becomes such an insurmountable task, you wallow under blankets until the world feels safe again. 

Whenever you come to that moment where you know it is time to get help, I hope you realize you are worthy of recovery and support and light, whatever that looks like for you. I hope you find the words.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Stanislaw Pytel / Stone via Getty Images

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Kristen Luft

Kristen Luft

Diagnosed since 2013

Kristen Luft is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate who has been living with depression since 2013. She is currently a marketing professional in North Carolina. Kristen is also a mental health advocate and writer, sharing her story to offer hope that we can all live full lives in recovery. When she's not working or writing, you can find her reading or spending time with her loved ones and dogs. Connect with Kristen on Instagram.

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